2 years in

I’m going to skip the recap of my procrastination cycle that I continue to get myself in with writing this blog and just jump in to today’s post, in which I feel ready to catch up to more current events because I finally, after 9 months, feel like I’ve adjusted to our most recent military change.  I mentioned a few posts back that I (and we) have been really frustrated with military stuff for awhile now.  The long and short of it started with D finishing flight school and it finally feels like it has ended with hot, sticky boredom but peace in little old Meridian, Mississippi.  I’ll share a little of our journey with this transition although a lot of the more personal bits have been left out.

It all started with D’s selection, which is what happens when they finish primary flight training and are selected to fly a specific air craft.  For Navy guys, the options for platforms are Maritime(P3s and P8s), Rotary(helicopters), Jets, or E2-C2. At the end of training, they have the guys fill out a “dream sheet” where they rank their top 3 choices. This is a step in what I now realize is the Navy’s cruel trick of making you think you have a choice, when in reality you don’t. Maybe we were naive to forget that military life means hanging up your free will for the “needs of the Navy.” But the students are encouraged to do the best they can and given the impression that if they do well in flight school that they will get their top choice. Maybe this is true for some but we are now no longer naive to think that there are any absolutes.

IMG_5679

Each squadron does their selection differently, but D’s basically had the guys line up at the squadron bar with family and friends around. Each student had three chips in a cup that each had a platform on it. They’d toast someone and then pull out a chip and read it. The CO would then look at the list and tell them yes or no if they were assigned to it. My husband already has two helicopters licenses, got the best score that week and 60% of the Navy pilots fly helicopters, so I think we weren’t the only ones assuming that he would get his first choice of rotary. Three chips in the cup, so if you got two no’s, then you knew the third one was a yes and your platform, right? Well, D got a no for e2/c2, a no for maritime, and then pulled out a rotary chip. Sigh of relief. Rotary means D gets to fly what he wants, we stay in Pensacola, and he’ll wing in a mere 6 months. The CO looks down at his bind and then says um, no. They steal his cup and put another chip in it. Whoops they say – jets it is. I think we both spent the next hour thinking “what just happened?” Not only did we get jets, we also were getting sent to Meridian, MS rather than Kingsville, TX which D had requested. In 3 weeks.

I won’t go into all the details of why this was difficult for us, but it wasn’t made any easier by people who didn’t get why anyone would be anything but super ecstatic to fly jets or to be a fighter pilot’s wife and didn’t understand the significant of how this would impact our current life and future. This was a major adjustment for us to wrap our heads around in addition to everything that came with it – We ended up living apart for 7 months as I commuted back and forth to my business and our home in Pensacola. D’s training started very slow and he seemed to be scheduled for duty every time I came for a visit. Then training stopped altogether due to issues with the oxygen system in the training jets. (If you think it’s difficult for a military wife to deal with the idea that her husband could die in battle, try wrapping your brain around the idea that your husband’s own plane could poison him.)  Meridian was smaller than any town we’d ever lived in, and to make things worse, everyone we knew was either staying in Pensacola or going to Texas.

But here we are. A lot of problems or questions or fears that have come with this transition have not been solved, answered, or soothed. But I’m finally feeling on a regular basis like things are okay. Maybe its time, maybe its perspective, whatever it is, I like feeling this way. And I actually feel like I’ve learned a few things along the way, and maybe you’ve been here too if you’re a navy wife.

1. It is not up to you. I’d heard it a million times, you read about it, you hear it constantly.  The military doesn’t care about what is best for you, it’s whats best for the Navy. You know that when you join this group, you sacrifice.  But I don’t think you can fully understand what that means to give up your freedom of choice until you’re going through it.  I don’t know why the Navy asks us or why we keep asking each other where we want to live or what we want for our future.  Feel free not to ask me, because honestly I’d rather not make a decision that is not really mine to make.

2.  You can be happy, but it’s okay if it takes time.  Moving is hard.  Moving to the deep south when you grew up a yankee is hard.  Moving to a tiny town where the nearest Target is 90 minutes away is hard.  Leaving your first home is hard.  Leaving your job or business you built is hard.  Finding a job or creating a new one is hard.  Making new friends is hard.  Saying goodbye to friends is hard.  Doing all this when your husbands dreams were just dashed is hard.  I don’t think pressuring myself to be happy about this move made me any happier.  I’m okay that its taken me a long time.

3.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work to be happy.  A trip to Starbucks, a walk through Anthropologie or Target, a few minutes on my back porch, a morning on the beach, an evening in my garden – all these were effortless happiness for me.  None of those things exist in Meridian, so I can either be unhappy or work for it.  I will go anywhere and try anything here because there just isn’t that much to do.  Make new friends, make a new beautiful home, make new hobbies and new memories.  That may take effort and work, especially in a small town, but its worth it.

4.  Go outside your comfort zone.  I grew up outside Philly and stepped with my girlfriends during recess and I now own three horses, wear cowboy boots on a regular basis, and actually crave pork skins now and then.  I don’t like leaving a/c if its over 80, but I’ve spent most of the summer dirty and sweaty on our friends’ muggy farm with horses pigs and a cow named Einstein.  I bake pies and go to antique shops and rodeos.  Not because these things are me, but because I want to be happy where I am, and for now that’s the deep south which is not my comfort zone. (I actually told D when we were moving to Florida that I didn’t even want to drive across Mississippi and jokes on me, we live here).  And we’ll probably be here for quite some time, so I will continue to do everything I can to make my uncomfortable zone as comfy and cozy as can be.  And you know what? I really do love pie.

5.  Advocate for yourself.  Michelle Obama may have convinced you that military spouses will be taken care of but the reality in this country is far from policy.  I said awhile back that military spouses are awesome and the truth is, we are a giant ball of awesomeness that is a majorly untapped resource.  I wish every military wife knew how awesome she was and wasn’t afraid to demand that people pay attention to that rather than just brush her under the rug.  It is not easy and I think at times we will feel absolutely defeated.  But don’t let the defeat take over, keep fighting for whatever it is that you deserve whether its a job, a home, a license, or something for your family.

6.  Try not to make comparisons.  It really felt for awhile and there continue to be things that make me feel like we are getting the short end of the stick.  But there’s always going to someone who has it worse and someone who has it better.  Comparing either way rarely makes us feel good.  There’s no set path of what D’s military career will look like and chances are it will be different than our friends.  I’m trying to focus on our own path.

7. Pie. It’s all I can think about now.

IMG_5691

Advertisements

Happy late 4th of July!

10.jpg

One goal I will not be crossing off my list this year as accomplished is blogging every week.  Oh well- such is life!  I can’t believe summer is almost half over already. We’ve been trying not to melt in the Florida heat, but enjoying the beaches and paddleboarding and motorcycle rides.  Yes, D bought a motorcycle. I think we both picture this:

Top-Gun

Even though we look more like this:

Prdt-ar-raptorcycles

D is still in the first phase of primary, he’s done lots of simulator flights and about 5 actual flights in the T-6B.  The crazy summer thunderstorms make it tough for him to consistently fly but the simulator is always ready!  His training wing had a spouse orientation the other week and I got to do a short flight in the simulator, it was pretty fun but I think the Navy should keep me out of their aircraft unless someone else can land it.  Here I am flying over Pensacola.  In a skirt.  Which made it impossible to eject before my crash landing on the runway.

IMG_4416.jpg

 

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since D commissioned as an officer.  I was reminiscing the other day and thought of just a few things I’ve learned in my first year of being a Navy wife I would want other new spouses to know.

1. It’s hard being away from D, but I don’t have to be miserable. Yes, it sucked being thousands of miles away from my husband when he was at OCS and not being able to talk to him. Yes I hated that the only thing I had to snuggle at night was a pillow with a sweatshirt on it. Yes I spent a few nights sitting at the bottom of my shower crying because I missed a phone call and no way to call D back. But most of the time I had a great time doing lots of fun things – learning to run, yoga classes, girl time, sunbathing poolside, eating breakfasts for dinner – a lot of things that D doesn’t really like.  Being apart is a reality in the military, so if you don’t want to hate it, make a plan not to.

2.  Work is important to me, at least for now.  I’ll admit, I was sad to leave my practice in Oregon, but pretty excited about having some time off of work during the process of moving.  I didn’t realize until after I started working again, however, how difficult it would be for me to not have the confidence I get from working and how strange it would be to go from being financially self-reliant to completely reliant on D.  And I think I was a little bit more of an emotional mess than I wanted to be not working.  The reality of being a military spouse is that your career becomes secondary to your spouse (unless you don’t mind choosing not to live together) – this is harder for some than others, but figure out how you feel about it and do what you can to make the best of it when you can’t have what you want.

3.  Military life is constant change and unpredictability.  Not only do we have no clue where we’ll be living in the next few years, D has no idea what his schedule is in the next few days.  I can rarely predict when D will be home or not since he can’t either.  And there is a constant change in how busy he is.  He will be gone or studying for 12 hrs straight for a few weeks, and then may have a week or months of pretty much nothing.  That constant change in his schedule and productivity can be pretty difficult to adjust to for both of us.  It requires a plan A, B, C and learning to be okay if none of those plans work out.  It also means giving a lot of “I don’t knows” to family and friends who ask questions.  Note: Some family and friends are more willing to accept this answer than others.

4.  Military wives are awesome.  I absolutely love having ladies who are going through the same things as me.  I love meeting new people and building new friendships and having a built in support group.  And thankfully with technology, these friendships don’t have to end with a new duty station. (And I imagine it’s hard being a military husband,  but I bet they’re just as awesome.)

5. Ask for a military discount. I still forget this everywhere I go.

When I asked D what he’s learned, all he said “Hurry up and wait” (*see number 3).  That’s the Navy for you.

It’s definitely been a wild ride our first year in the military, I’m sure there are many more adventures ahead of us!

02.jpg

Sometimes I wish states didn’t exist

Like when they have completely different requirements from licensure. MFT is a newer field, so there is no consistency state to state. Unfortunately the board in Florida made me take an extra graduate course to satisfy one of their requirements. They also told me this a week after fall semester started, so I had to wait until January to start the course (rather than taking it during the two months I had off before I started working again . . . grrr). But I’m DONE! I will say, it was pretty easy and not what I would consider graduate-level work except for this last week because I had to write my first paper in 4 years. I am happy to say I survived, everything is in and I just have to wait until next week to get my final grade. Hopefully that means very soon after, I can go back and change everything back to LMFT. I really miss that L.

Note for military spouses: This is definitely something you’ll experience again and again as you move around the world no matter what your field. Thankfully some states recognize this and have expedited processes or reduced fees for military spouses (yay for Florida, boo for Oregon). I have discovered, however, that you do have to do a bit of legwork to make that actually happen (Hint: Very BLUNT, semi-angry emails to the supervisors of supervisors seem to help to get the ball rolling). I also realized I should have looked into scholarships and grant money for spouses a lot sooner. I had to pay for my course before I did enough research, but most programs will only give you money in advance, rather than reimburse you.

D has two more tests left in API- eeek! We are keeping our fingers and toes crossed that all continues to go as well as its been going so that we can celebrate (and just take a giant breather) this weekend. Any extra luck sent our way would be appreciated!

Hurry up and . . . wait

I’ve seen this phrase several places to describe how things work in the navy, and let me tell you I feel like I’m stuck in the waiting game right now. We’re kind of in this really weird transition period, part of me wants to enjoy every last moment in Oregon and spend time with people and the other half of me just wants to get out of here and move on to the next thing!  My practice has slowed down as I’m preparing to close it, and D’s work is pretty chill at the recruiting office so it’s been nice to have time to relax but we also have so many unknowns and stressful things coming up, it doesn’t feel too relaxing!  We know when we need to be in Florida, but don’t have an exact moving date yet (because its not up to us).  And the control freak part of me is slightly (okay, VERY) freaked out by the fact that in a month we’ll be driving across the country to move into our new . . . hotel room.  I’m trying not to think about how crazy those days are going to be trying to find a house (and build a new practice/find a job at the same time??).  I’m soooo excited for D to start flight school and get further down the path to where he wants to be, but the reality of the sacrifices a military wife has to make are starting to hit me.  While I’m trying to remain hopeful about starting a new practice in Florida and being able to be as successful there as I’ve been here, it’s also really scary having to say goodbye to my dream job and head back into the unknown.

Thank goodness for faith.  We’ve accomplished much harder things, and I trust that everything will work out in the end. For now all I need is a lot of patience and keeping this image in my mind:

pensacola-beach-florida-20150705203834-559995ca131b4